This toolkit provides step-by-step guidance for promoting good mental health at work. It provides links to key information and templates on the website.

Why manage mental health?

Approximately one in six employees in every organisation is having mental health problems at any one time. Although employers cannot, of course, control all the factors that affect mental health, they have a key role in managing the working conditions that can have an influence on stress and mental health, as well as ensuring people with mental ill health have the support they need and are not discriminated against or stigmatised.

This will help you:

  • retain valuable, skilled, and experienced staff, saving time and costs

  • reduce sickness absence and create a more healthy workplace

  • enhance safety and increase productivity

  • demonstrate your commitment to and care for your staff.

The link between stress and mental health

While stress is not a mental illness, many of the symptoms of stress and mild mental health conditions are similar. In addition, stress can exacerbate an existing mental health issue and affect a sufferer’s ability to cope, as it can with anyone.

What do you need to do as an employer?

  1. Draw up your Primary Care Mental Health at Work Policy. Ideally this should be part of an overall wellbeing strategy.

  2. Ensure you also have a Stress at Work Policy in place.

  3. Use the Workplace Stress Training Presentation to train managers in the importance of managing stress in the workplace and how to spot the signs of employees having psychological or emotional difficulties. Staff could also be appointed as mental health first aiders, and they should be able to conduct a workplace stress assessment.

  4. Identify any work-related factors and make reasonable adjustments to support people, both while they are at work and upon returning to work after a sickness absence due to stress. See How to Rehabilitate Staff following Sick Leave for Stress.

  5. Promote awareness of mental health issues and create a culture where employees feel they can talk about their concerns. Use the Employee Factsheet: Stress at Work as a first step to start a conversation.

Covid-19 and mental health

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, employees may be struggling with their mental health, and there are particular pressures on primary care staff at this time. Employers should be alert for signs of poor mental health and be ready to respond to this. See our key feature Mental health challenges for primary staff during Covid-19 for ways to support staff.

Other useful feature articles:

Useful topics

The following topics offer in-depth advice and a variety of resources to help you manage mental health and stress.

Useful Q&As

  • Wellness and recovery action plans

    Q: An employee has been diagnosed with a mental health illness. It has been suggested that we can develop with the employee a Wellness and Recovery Action Plan to assist them at work. What is this?

  • Stress v anxiety

    Q: How do I tell the difference between a stressed employee and one suffering from anxiety or depression, which may become a mental health issue?

  • Sick leave for mental health

    Q: Can employees call in sick for poor mental health?

Health Assured

If you need help on mental health and wellbeing issues, Health Assured offers the most comprehensive employee assistance programme (EAP) available today. Health Assured high quality counselling and specialist work–life support is delivered through an in-house team of 60 BACP accredited counsellors, supported by a network of thousands of active counsellors. Their specialist service supports 9 million people throughout the UK, handling over 300,000 calls a year.


Last reviewed 7 April 2021